Water expert was first woman on Laguna Beach water commission

Susan M. Trager was known as confident and tenacious by her colleagues. She was 63.

March 24, 2011|By Barbara Diamond,
  • Susan M. Trager
Susan M. Trager

Prominent local attorney and longtime Laguna Beach County Water District Commissioner Susan M. Trager died Tuesday in her Laguna Beach home. She was 63.

Trager was the first woman appointed to the district board since it was founded in 1925. With more than 30 years of experience in water law, Trager had much to offer the district, which at that time was rethinking its decision to relinquish its independence to the city rather than be forced by the Orange County Local Agency Formation Committee into a shotgun wedding with South Coast Water District.

"When Susan spoke, people listened," said Renae Hinchey, district general manager. "She was confident, tenacious and persistent in making sure that Laguna Beach's water concerns were represented. She was the type of woman who, when she dedicated herself to something, really fought for what she believed in."

Although Trager lost the battle to restore the district's independence, she was able to wrest a concession that established the district as a subsidiary of the city.


"Susan fought for the subsidiary status because it enabled the district to continue to function under the government water code and to keep our assets separate," Hinchey said. "She was a force to be reckoned with."

When the transition was completed, Trager was appointed to the commission on which she served until her death.

"Her knowledge, work ethic, dedication and, most importantly, her passion for water is a huge loss to the district, Laguna Beach and the water industry," said commission Chairman Bruce Scherer. "We will miss her greatly and join her family, friends and colleagues in mourning her passing."

As a member of the commission, Trager served on four oversight committees, including those for finance, audit and emergency preparedness. She also served on the Water Supply/Santa Ana River Basin Committee and fought to regain the district's groundwater rights in the basin.

Trager was described in a press release issued by the district as a tireless worker on behalf of Laguna Beach residents who rely entirely on imported water.

She was dedicated to ensuring a reliable water supply and passionate about finding other sources than the dwindling and increasingly more expensive state allotment from Northern California and the Colorado River, Hinchey said.

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